Major League Soccer and Liga MX have announced the format for the expanded Leagues Cup competition next summer that will feature all teams from both leagues participating in the month-long, World Cup-style tournament.
The competition will include all 47 teams and will begin on July 21 and conclude on Aug. 19, the leagues announced Thursday. All 77 tournament games will be played in the United States and Canada.
The expansion of the tournament was first announced in September 2021 and will feature a prize money for the winning clubs, along with berths in the CONCACAF Champions League for the first, second and third place teams.
“There has never been anything like Leagues Cup in major professional sports on this continent or anywhere else and we believe the tournament will help elevate the profile of CONCACAF throughout the world,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.
Using a World Cup-style format, 32 of the 47 teams will advance from group stages into a knockout bracket.
The group stages will feature 15 groups of three teams with the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout rounds. Two champions from the 2022 season will be automatically placed into the knockout rounds. The 2022 MLS Cup champion will receive an automatic bid to the round of 32. The other auto bid will go to the either the Clausura 2022 or Apertura 2022 champion from LigaMX. The champion with the most combined points across both of the tournaments in 2022 will receive the auto bid.
Group stage placement for MLS teams will be based on the final 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings with the top 15 set to host two matches. The top 15 Liga MX clubs from the combined Clausura and Apertura standings in 2022 will be drawn opposite those MLS clubs in reverse order. The No. 1 MLS team will have the No. 15 Liga MX team in its group, for example.
The remaining 13 MLS teams and remaining two Liga MX teams will be drawn into groups and divided geographically.
“For Liga MX, this means spending a month with our great and growing fan base in the United States and creating new international opportunities, so that our clubs and players can show the world their talent and commitment to excellence,” Liga MX Executive President Mikel Arriola said.
The group stages of the tournament also will not feature draws. Both teams will earn a point for a match that is tied after 90 minutes, but a penalty shootout will decide a winner with the winning club earning an extra point in the group stage standings. Regulation wins will be worth three points.
The full schedule will be announced in the coming months.
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Tim Booth, The Associated Press